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FCC to monitor telcos using Huawei, ZTE

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US government agency the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), has started to monitor the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment by telecommunications carriers across the country.

In November, the FCC barred the use of Universal Service funds to purchase equipment and services from companies that have been deemed to “pose a threat to national security”. It will now monitor the use of those funds by carriers, their affiliates and subsidiaries, while collecting information from carriers using the equipment.   

“Huawei and ZTE have been initially designated as threats to national security. Given that those designations may become final this spring, we are moving forward quickly to identify where equipment and services from these suppliers are embedded in our communications networks and, where they do have a foothold, to be in a position to help remove them,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai.

“Today we’ve begun to collect the data we will need to protect our networks and protect the American people,” Pai added.

The FCC confirmed its intentions on the 26th February, reassuring small and rural carriers that a reimbursement programme would be established to minimise the impact of the proposals.

The following day, the Senate confirmed US$1 billion in funding for rural telecoms companies to retrofit their networks to remove any equipment manufactured by Huawei and ZTE.

In monitoring the telcos, the FCC will specifically look at whether carriers own or are using equipment or services from Huawei or ZTE; the type of such equipment or services; the costs associated with purchasing and/or installing such equipment and services; and the costs associated with removing and replacing such equipment and services.

A statement from the commission added: “Today’s action initiates the process to collect information to aid in the design of a reimbursement program and inform any other potential FCC actions to protect the communications supply chain.”

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